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Michael B. Powner, Dawn A. Sim, Meidong Zhu, João Nobre-Cardoso, Ryan Jones, Adil Syed, Andrew A. Chang, Pearse A. Keane, Adnan Tufail, Catherine A. Egan, Marcus Fruttiger; Evaluation of Nonperfused Retinal Vessels in Ischemic Retinopathy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(11):5031-5037. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-20007.
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Retinal ischemia has been traditionally assessed by fluorescein angiography, visualizing perfused vessels. However, this method does not provide any information about nonperfused vessels, and although it is often assumed that vessels in ischemic areas regress, we know little about how nonperfused retinal vessels change over time. Here, we aim to learn more about the long-term fate of nonperfused vessels in the retinal vasculature.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) was used to visualize perfusion as well as structural properties of the retinal vasculature in patients suffering from retinal vascular occlusions. In addition, postmortem tissue from a patient with long standing (6 years) central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) was investigated, using immunohistochemistry on whole-mount retina and paraffin sections to visualize blood vessel components.
Comparing OCT angiography with enface OCT images revealed that in ischemic areas of the retina, nonperfused, larger vessels could be detected as hyperreflective structures in enface OCT images. Furthermore, analysis of a postmortem tissue sample from a CRVO patient with a large nonperfused region in the macula, revealed preservation of the basement membrane from all retinal vessels, including nonperfused, acellular vessels of all calibers.
Our data suggests long-term preservation of vascular basement membrane in ischemic retina. This has implications for therapeutic approaches aiming to alleviate retinal ischemia via the regeneration of damaged vessels.
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